Top five cocktail-making tips

Last updated 14:34 02/07/2014

A MASTER AND HIS MIX: New Zealand's best bartender, Jason Clark, and his winning cocktail, Parlo Italiano.

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Jason Clark is, again, New Zealand's best mixer of drinks.

The now Auckland-based bartender (he's behind the bar at Bedford Soda & Liquor) has won this year's Diageo Reserve World Class National competition, meaning he's off to represent New Zealand in the global final in the UK later this month.

Clark, who you may remember brought us this wonderful concoction last year, won the national final last year as well (at that time he was representing Wellington's Hummingbird) and came fourth in the global competition.

Here's hoping he 'medals' this year - go Jase!

So, we thought we should take the opportunity to pick Clark's mixologist brain: here are his top five tips for budding bartenders: 

1. Read the room & your guests

Keep your head up to always be aware of what's going on around you in the room. Don't be afraid to pop out from behind the bar to greet and guide guests or to deliver a drink to describe its intricacies. Be curious, ask questions to help them feel comfortable and so you can best service their wants and needs.

2. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

The most important thing to do towards creating smooth service is to get everything precisely organised and arranged so you can serve guests fast and efficiently.

3. Know your products 

You should intimately know every single product in the bar. What it looks, tastes and smells like along with its pronunciation and background. Knowledge is power.

4. Classics come first

Use quality sources to learn the background behind classic cocktails and how to make them fast and efficiently. This will give you the tools you need to create your own drinks. 

5. Balance is Key!

Just like a meal, the balance of ingredients can be the difference between a bad, good or great cocktail. Use classic formulas as a guide but adjust to suit the preference of each guest. Tasting is the best way to understand how your ingredients are working together.

Oh, and here's the recipe for the cocktail that won Clark this year's NZ title ... 


Jason created this drink to speak Italian and tell a story of his experiences in Italy - to take you on a journey.

One of Jason's favourite things to do in Italy was sit back with a nice glass of wine and watch the world go by. He wanted to capture the people, the land, the history, those moments all in a glass.

50ml gin (preferably Tanqueray Ten) 
40ml Raspberry Pomegranate Marsala shrub (vinegar based syrup)
25ml fresh lemon juice
20ml egg white
2x dash walnut bitters
4ml olive oil
2 basil leaves
homemade Mediterranean seasoning (blend of truffle salf, lemon pepper and pepperoncini dried chilli)
freeze-dried raspberry crumbs, handful 

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Main ingredient Gin
Type of dish Cocktails
Course Drinks
Cooking time <30 min
Serves/makes 1
Special options None

1. Using a little water, rim a stemless glass with homemade Mediterranean seasoning (truffle 
salt, lemon pepper, pepperoncini dried chilli). This brings a unique punch of spice to every sip. 

2. Combine all the liquid ingredients plus a basil leaf in a cold shaker.

3. Shake twice with lots of ice and fine strain into the rimmed glass.

4. Garnish with one basil leaf, a colourful pelargonium flower and freeze dried raspberry crumbs

NOTE: Inclusion of olive oil reacts with the eggs white and the shrub to create a really ripe and fluffy 
velvety foam. 

Serve on a marble tile accompanied with Vin Cotto raspberry balsamic glaze, foccacia bread.

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